2018 BC referendum on proportional representation

23 posts / 0 new
Last post
Jacob Richter
2018 BC referendum on proportional representation

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/bc-referendum-proportiona...

 

I like this part:

Quote:
Approval for a change will need 50 per cent plus one vote province-wide and if the referendum passes, the new system would be enacted before the next provincial election, scheduled for 2021.

And also the fact that the BC Liberals freaked out over the simpler and lower threshold.

Sean in Ottawa

Great -- saying no to people who voted by counting those who didn't is unreasonable.

Rev Pesky

Frrom the CBC article:

The Greens campaigned on a promise to introduce a system of proportional representation. Party Leader Andrew Weaver said the exact form of electoral change would be a matter of negotiation.

In other words, a pig in a poke. There are almost as many different forms of PR voting as there are countries that elect governments by PR.  Many of those forms are changed more or less constantly to deal with problems that arise.

We see right here in BC one of the problems, that is, a tiny party becoming 'kingmakers'. That just happened in New Zealand as well.

In fact, PR voting systems trend in one of two different directions. Either a mish-mash of little parties that can't agree on anything, as per Portugal, Spainl, Israel; or a dimunition of most parties into a more or less two party system, as per Germany or Malta.

Let them have their referendum, but the precise form of what people are voting for (or against) should be clear. As Weaver would have it, there would be one precise electoral form (FPTP) against any one of dozens of different systems, which the electorate couldn't know beforehand, and which they wouldn't get to vote on.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

FWIW, my takeaway is that the government, today, doesn't know what alternative voting model will be offered up, but that after consultation (and before the decision) one will be chosen.

Given both the backlash against "BC-STV" in B.C. and the flavour of MMP offered in Ontario, I can't imagine any government that actually favoured PR offering up a Mystery Surprise Box and expecting the electorate to take their chances.

Sean in Ottawa

Rev Pesky wrote:

Frrom the CBC article:

The Greens campaigned on a promise to introduce a system of proportional representation. Party Leader Andrew Weaver said the exact form of electoral change would be a matter of negotiation.

In other words, a pig in a poke. There are almost as many different forms of PR voting as there are countries that elect governments by PR.  Many of those forms are changed more or less constantly to deal with problems that arise.

We see right here in BC one of the problems, that is, a tiny party becoming 'kingmakers'. That just happened in New Zealand as well.

In fact, PR voting systems trend in one of two different directions. Either a mish-mash of little parties that can't agree on anything, as per Portugal, Spainl, Israel; or a dimunition of most parties into a more or less two party system, as per Germany or Malta.

Let them have their referendum, but the precise form of what people are voting for (or against) should be clear. As Weaver would have it, there would be one precise electoral form (FPTP) against any one of dozens of different systems, which the electorate couldn't know beforehand, and which they wouldn't get to vote on.

 

So are the countries with PR splintered because they have PR? You should ask this question. You will find that it is difficult to support that contention. There are very special cases you mention and no indication that countries with developed systems would splinter to any great degree with PR. Some of these countries have splintered due to religious politics, some due to regional division, soem are very new democracies. None have much in common with Canada when it comes to factors that could lead to similar results.

Portugal has 6 parties represented in their national assembly.
Spain has 9 parties represented in their national assembly -- but 4 are local nationlist parties. Only 4 partes got over 3% of the vote in the last election.
Israel may have a dozen parties elected but a number of them are religious parties and a others reflect the divisions in the country more than simply an electoral process. It is not clear that the system itself is the reason for the splintering there. Many parties exist without any real hope of representation in their assembly.

New Zealand has a couple more parties in their assembly than Canada at a single seat each thanks to PR but they are quite similar to Canada in results otherwise. What is special this time is that the lead party fell one seat short of a majority and so all the others combined. This is an unusual result. New Zealand is especially stable with One party having governed 3 times in a row following another party which governed 3 times in a row.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
There are very special cases you mention and no indication that countries with developed systems would splinter to any great degree with PR. Some of these countries have splintered due to religious politics, some due to regional division, soem are very new democracies.

But would it be fair to suggest that the splintering required an electoral model that is better suited to splintering?

I'm not sure it's the end of the world.  But do you suppose Fair Vote Canada is going to tell us all about the potential for splintering?  If not, why not?

And is there any plan in Canada to prevent wee li'l religious parties, or regionalist parties or "niche" parties or whatever the actual problem is?  Surely part of why other countries with PR have these parties is because they have PR.

 

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

Why don't they just go with MMP?  That one gives you proportionality and specific constituency representation.  Break B.C. into 10 eight-to-nine seat ridings.

cco

Mr. Magoo wrote:

And is there any plan in Canada to prevent wee li'l religious parties, or regionalist parties or "niche" parties or whatever the actual problem is?  Surely part of why other countries with PR have these parties is because they have PR.

Sure. I mean, surely in Canada, under reliable FPTP, you'd never see parties rise to federal prominence with platforms like "Québec should be independent" or "the west wants in". That's the kind of niche regionalism that only PR brings you.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

By "federal prominence" do you mean "losing anyway"?

Or else to what degree have recent governments had to quietly salute sovereinty or western independence in the interest of getting things done?

cco

Well, for ten years Canada had a federal government that rose to power by complaining about western alienation. But if the complaint's only about parties that win, then what's the worry about wee little religious parties?

Rev Pesky

From cco:

...what's the worry about wee little religious parties?

The worry is that small parties, representing very narrow interests, could become the tail that wags the dog. I know BC is not currently using any form of PR, but the result of the last election is a very rare occurrence. Unfortunately, with PR this sort of outcome is much more likely.

The other worry one might have in BC is that Metro Vancouver has 55% of the provincial population. There are vast areas of BC that currently have at least a minimum of representation. Moving to a PR system could end the representation they have while political parties concentrate their efforts in the higher population areas.

These and other problems with the partial PR system that may be put in place are legitimate concerns, especially when the precise form of partial PR will not be known until some time after the vote.

NorthReport

If small single interest groups get 1% of the votes they should receive 1% representation as after all that's democracy. And whether or not you like the Greens, they got a lot more votes than their number of seats represent. And it is up to the bigger parties to negotiate a fair and reasonable deal how to govern. Why should a Green vote be woth less than any other party's vote?

progressive17 progressive17's picture

NorthReport wrote:

If small single interest groups get 1% of the votes they should receive 1% representation as after all that's democracy. And whether or not you like the Greens, they got a lot more votes than their number of seats represent. And it is up to the bigger parties to negotiate a fair and reasonable deal how to govern. Why should a Green vote be woth less than any other party's vote?

Simple. Because an insufficient number of Green candidates won seats to make up to the Green percentage of the popular vote. That's the way the ball bounces. If you want a Green government, get busy and campaign for the Greens. Get used to the fact that in any party, you are probably going to lose. If you can't face the possibility of losing, you don't have the stomach for politics.

Having larger ridings sucks, because MPs will on average be further away from the people they serve. Believe it or not, half of the work in an MP's constituency office is immigration enquiries.

Party lists suck, because I don't have the opportunity to choose the candidate in my local area. It allows party elites to choose their friends.

MMP and various other PR systems suck, because they are too difficult to understand. The explanations are so long, you fall asleep reading them or switch the channel. Runoffs (such as they have in France) are easier to understand, however we can't have that because it wasn't our idea.

What people understand is that in a horse race, there is only one winner. That way, you can have as many horses in the race as you want. 

PR is always advocated by parties who lose. When they win, they don't advocate it so much. This is vile and disgusting to a voter, who already sees the huge pensions and other gold-plated benefits that politicians enjoy at our expense. If you are going to get all this privilege, you should win it fair and square, not through some half-assed system only political junkies understand.

cco

Rev Pesky wrote:

The worry is that small parties, representing very narrow interests, could become the tail that wags the dog. I know BC is not currently using any form of PR, but the result of the last election is a very rare occurrence. Unfortunately, with PR this sort of outcome is much more likely.

Each party will have to defend the alliances it makes at the next election. If the BC Liberals go into coalition with the Christian Heritage Party, and implement all kinds of socially regressive legislation, they'll know they're trading away whatever moderate base they had. Which brings me to:

Quote:

The other worry one might have in BC is that Metro Vancouver has 55% of the provincial population. There are vast areas of BC that currently have at least a minimum of representation. Moving to a PR system could end the representation they have while political parties concentrate their efforts in the higher population areas.

The representation they have won't be ended. Instead, what'll happen is that a vote will matter all across the province, instead of just in swing ridings. What makes politicians ignore a riding isn't that the riding is rural, but that it's safe (Calgary Heritage and Battle River-Crowfoot get about the same amount of attention during campaigns). If the BC NDP consistently loses in rural BC, under FPTP, it can safely ignore rural areas and focus only on Metro Vancouver. Under PR, improving the NDP vote from 20% to 35% in rural ridings would make a difference in the final seat count.

Rev Pesky

From cco:

If the BC NDP consistently loses in rural BC, under FPTP, it can safely ignore rural areas and focus only on Metro Vancouver.

This is kind of funny because it is almost exactly why the NDP has been unable to form a government for a long time. They consistently lose in the 'heartland'. Ignoring those ridings, and concentrating on Metro Vancouver has not worked to bring them enough seats to form a government.

With a PR system that might no longer be true. In other words, that huge supply of votes in Metro Vancouver would be enough to allow them to govern, while they ignored the rural vote (as they have over the years).

But of course we have no idea what form of PR would be instituted (if that's the case) because that wouldn't be decided until afterward. 

I can tell you something else that I can pretty much guarantee. Outside of Metro Vancouver , the Fraser Valley, is known around here as 'the Bible Belt'. The vote in the Bible Belt has always been anyone but the NDP. That particular tendency was held in check by the 'big tent' parties that live in a FPTP system. Without that check there will arise a Christian right party, and there's enough of a solid block of votes there to turn that group into the kingmakers in most elections.

So instead of a tendecy within an existing party, they will have their own party, and that party will likely have the single largest block of voters outside of the NDP or Liberal parties. 

Just so you know what I'm talking about, this is the area wherein is Trinity Western University, the university that forces their students to sign an undertaking that they will not engage in sexual relations outside of marriage, and that marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman.

 

NorthReport

 

Your vote should NOT count more than anyone else's vote. Period. And that is why the BC NDP wants to bring in PR. Because it is the fairest of all voting systems. And this fear of minority governments is nonsense. We have probably had more progressive legislation passed by minority governments than majority governments.

progressive17 wrote:

NorthReport wrote:

If small single interest groups get 1% of the votes they should receive 1% representation as after all that's democracy. And whether or not you like the Greens, they got a lot more votes than their number of seats represent. And it is up to the bigger parties to negotiate a fair and reasonable deal how to govern. Why should a Green vote be woth less than any other party's vote?

Simple. Because an insufficient number of Green candidates won seats to make up to the Green percentage of the popular vote. That's the way the ball bounces. If you want a Green government, get busy and campaign for the Greens. Get used to the fact that in any party, you are probably going to lose. If you can't face the possibility of losing, you don't have the stomach for politics.

Having larger ridings sucks, because MPs will on average be further away from the people they serve. Believe it or not, half of the work in an MP's constituency office is immigration enquiries.

Party lists suck, because I don't have the opportunity to choose the candidate in my local area. It allows party elites to choose their friends.

MMP and various other PR systems suck, because they are too difficult to understand. The explanations are so long, you fall asleep reading them or switch the channel. Runoffs (such as they have in France) are easier to understand, however we can't have that because it wasn't our idea.

What people understand is that in a horse race, there is only one winner. That way, you can have as many horses in the race as you want. 

PR is always advocated by parties who lose. When they win, they don't advocate it so much. This is vile and disgusting to a voter, who already sees the huge pensions and other gold-plated benefits that politicians enjoy at our expense. If you are going to get all this privilege, you should win it fair and square, not through some half-assed system only political junkies understand.

Sean in Ottawa

When I see the argument "that's the way the ball bounces" I know that there is no real logic holding it up.

ghoris

Why can't the government have the referendum in two stages, or even ask a two-part question? To wit:

1)  Are you in favour of changing the current method of electing Members of the Legislative Assembly?
Yes or No.  If 50% +1 of voters vote 'Yes', then the voting system will be changed to the option selected in Question 2.

2) Which electoral system should be adopted to replace the current system?  Rank your choices from 1 to 5
Option A
Option B
Option C
Option D
Option E

If no option receives 50%+1 of first-preference votes, subsequent preferences will be distributed until one option received 50%+1 of the vote using an instant runoff system.

I think part of the reason BC-STV failed (albeit narrowly on the first go-round), apart from the fact that the Liberals set a higher threshold for passage, was that it was a complicated, Rube Goldberg-esque system that was forged as a compromise by the Citizens' Assembly, and which nobody without a masters degree in mathematics could adequately explain to voters. I personally think (despite what happened in Ontario and PEI) an MMP system is more likely to be viewed with favour, as it preserves elements of local or regional representation while making the overall result more equitable. It seems to work very well and has produced relatively stable governments in New Zealand, Scotland, Germany, Wales, etc 

Rev Pesky

From North Report:

...that is why the BC NDP wants to bring in PR. Because it is the fairest of all voting systems.

But which of the dozens of PR systems are you talking about?

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
Why can't the government have the referendum in two stages, or even ask a two-part question? To wit:

As long as FPTP is included in question 2 then there's no need for question 1.  It's implied by a voter's choice of a PR model or FPTP.

And if you want to use a preference-based model for the referendum question itself then it's actually more fair than asking two separate questions.  Suppose a voter likes the idea of MMP, but prefers FPTP to STV.  If question one eliminates FPTP then there would be no way for that voter to express their actual preferences.

I've also suggested before that we would never even consider that kind of trick in a general election:

1.  Do you agree that the incumbent must be replaced?

2.  Once we get rid of the incumbent, which of the following replacements do you prefer?

MLAs should not have to first face an "Anyone But the Encumbent" vote, and neither should the incumbent electoral model.

cco

Mr. Magoo wrote:

1.  Do you agree that the incumbent must be replaced?

2.  Once we get rid of the incumbent, which of the following replacements do you prefer?

I made a similar joke when the Liberals were trying to get the electoral reform committee to give their desired voting system. The ideal Liberal ballot would be:

1. Do you vote Liberal? (y/n, if n proceed to 2)

2. Are you sure? (y/n, if y proceed to 3)

3. What non-Liberal party do you consider the second-best choice to represent this riding?

NorthReport

Bill 6 – 2017: Electoral Reform Referendum 2018 Act

 

On Wednesday, and continuing to Thursday, we debated at second reading Bill 6 – 2017: Electoral Reform Referendum 2018 Act. This is the act the enables a referendum to occur in the Fall of 2018 on proportional representation.

Below I reproduce the text and videos of my second reading contribution to the debate. As I am sure you will notice, there is a remarkable amount of BC Liberal heckling during my speech.

http://www.andrewweavermla.ca/2017/10/27/bill-6-2017-electoral-reform-re...

NorthReport